Health Care

Health Care in the U.S.

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Maternal Health Care

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Maternal health is the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. For many women, motherhood is a rewarding experience. For others it is a time of ill health and sometimes even death.

Hair Dye and Certain Chemicals Link to Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer Linked to Permanent Hair DChemical Hair Straighteners in Study of Almost 50,000 women.


Women who regularly use permanent hair dye could be increasing their risk of breast cancer up to 60 percent, according to scientists writing in the International Journal of Cancer.


A study based on the medical records of more than 45,000 women found a positive correlation between permanent hair dye and breast cancer—particularly who are black.





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A health care algorithm offered less care to black patients

African American Families Want Parity in Healthcare Services

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Care for some of the sickest Americans is decided in part by algorithm. New research shows that software guiding care for tens of millions of people systematically privileges white patients over black patients. Analysis of records from a major US hospital revealed that the algorithm used effectively let whites cut in line for special programs for patients with complex, chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney problems.If 

African Americans Deserve Better Healthcare

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Blount of the Black Women’s Health Imperative hopes work like that becomes more common, since algorithms can have an important role in helping providers serve their patients. However, she says that doesn’t mean society can look away from the need to work on the deeper causes of health inequalities through policies such as improved family leave, working conditions, and more flexible clinic hours. “We have to look at these to make sure people who are not in the middle class get to have going to a doctors appointment be the everyday occurrence that it should be,” she says.

Infant Mortality

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African Americans Babies More Likely to Die

Infant survival improved in North Carolina, but black babies are more likely to die.


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Child Births Among Black Females

Why are Black Women Dying in Childbirth?

Black women are three to four times of dying from childbirth  than white women according to the Center for Disease and Precention Center.


The reasons behind the racial disparities are many and complex, she said. Lack of access and poor quality of care are leadings factors, particularly among women at lower socioeconomic levels.


But there's a bigger problem, Langer said. "Basically, black women are undervalued. They are not monitored as carefully as white women are. When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed."



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Health & Wellness

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Affordable Care Act (ACA)

President Donald Trump seeks to destroy Former President Barack Obama's signature legislation on Healthcare.

NEWS

Study: Black women born in U.S. have more aggressive breast cancer 

By 

Tauren Dyson


June 13 (UPI) -- Black women born in the United States have a higher rate of triple-negative breast cancer than black women who are U.S. citizens born in Eastern and Western Africa, and the Caribbean, a study says.

This research, published Thursday in the journal Cancer, suggests not all black women have disproportionately higher triple-negative breast cancer rates compared to other racial or ethnic groups. 


"It is not clear what risk factors conferred by birthplace are associated with subtype prevalence," Hyuna Sung, a researcher at the American Cancer Society and study author, said in a news release. "However, the similarity in breast cancer subtype prevalence between U.S.-born and Western-African-born blacks, contrasted against the differences with Eastern-African-born blacks, may in part reflect shared ancestry-related risk factors."


The researchers analyzed data from the National Program of Cancer Registries and the CDC's U.S. Cancer Statistics program. They identified more than 65,000 non-Hispanic black women who were born in either the United States, East Africa, West Africa or the Caribbean, and were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2010 and 2015. 


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As of 2013, records show roughly 9 percent of the U.S. black population was born outside of the country, according to the researchers. About half of that number were born in the Caribbean, while 35 percent were born in Sub-Saharan Africa and 9 percent came from Central and South America.

In contrast to black women born in the United States, the prevalence rate ratio of triple-negative breast cancer risk was 46 percent lower in Eastern-African-born black women, 13 percent lower in Caribbean-born women and 8 percent lower in Western-African-born women.

Triple-negative breast cancer is usually more aggressive and harder to treat than other forms. In the United States, it's twice as prevalent in black women compared to white women. 

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However, the influx of black immigrants into the United States over the last few decades has created subgroups of women with varying rates of breast cancer occurrences and properly understanding those subgroups may help to improve screening and treatment for the disease.


"Presenting breast tumor subtype in black women as a single category is not reflective of the diverse black populations in the nation," the authors wrote.

Another Dangerous Prescription Drug

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Benzos: Another prescription drug with deadly consequences

  ..Benzodiazepines mixed with opioids can be fatal.  The opioid epidemic has gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but another kind of prescription drug also has deadly consequences, especially when combined with opioids.

Benzodiazepines, like Xanax or Valium, are used to treat anxiety, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported 11,537 overdose deaths in 2017 due to a combination of benzodiazepines and opioids.

Paternity Leave

Dove Men+Care pledges $1M to fund paid paternity leave

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is partnering with Dove Men+Care to fight for federally mandated paid paternity leave. On Tuesday, he's heading down to Capitol Hill to discuss this with legislatures like senator Warren, Booker and Rubio.

Paternity Leave Has Long-Lasting Benefits. So Why Don’t More American Men Take It?

Men who take leave are less likely to get divorced, and have better relationships with their children, research shows.

Paid Family Leave

Congressional Research Services

Paid Family Leave in the United States Paid family leave (PFL) refers to partially or fully compensated time away from work for specific and generally significant family caregiving needs, such as the arrival of a new child or serious illness of a close family member. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA; P.L. 103-3) provides eligible workers with a federal entitlement to unpaid leave for a limited set of family caregiving needs, no federal law requires private-sector employers to provide paid leave of any kind. Currently, employees may access paid family leave if it is offered by an employer. In addition, workers in certain states may be eligible for state family leave insurance benefits that can provide some income support during periods of unpaid leave. 


As defined in state law and federal proposals, family caregiving activities that are eligible for PFL or family leave insurance generally include caring for and bonding with a newly arrived child and attending to serious medical needs of certain close family members. Some permit leave for other reasons, but in practice, day-to-day needs for leave to attend to family matters (e.g., a school conference or lapse in child care coverage), minor illness, and preventive care are not included among “family leave” categories. 


Employer provision of PFL in the private sector is voluntary. According to a national survey of employers conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16% of private-industry employees had access to PFL through their employers in March 2018. The availability of PFL was more prevalent among professional and technical occupations and industries, high-paying occupations, full-time workers, and workers in large companies (as measured by number of employees). Recent announcements by several large companies indicate that access may be increasing among certain groups of workers. 


In addition, some states have enacted legislation to create state paid family leave insurance (FLI) programs, which provide cash benefits to eligible workers who engage in certain caregiving activities. California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey currently operate FLI programs, which offer 4 to 10 weeks of benefits to eligible workers. Three other states and the District of Columbia have enacted FLI programs, but they are not yet fully implemented and paying benefits. The New York program began phased implementation in 2018. The District of Columbia FLI legislation took effect in April 2017, and Washington State’s FLI law took effect in July 2017; benefit payments start in 2020 for both programs. Massachusetts’ family leave program was signed into law in June 2018; its benefit payments are to begin in January 2021.  


Many advanced-economy countries entitle workers to some form of paid family leave. Whereas some provide leave to employees engaged in family caregiving (e.g., of parents, spouses, and other family members), many emphasize leave for new parents, mothers in particular. The United States is the only Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member to not offer paid leave to new mothers. 


In December 2017, Congress passed H.R. 1 (P.L. 115-97), which included tax incentives to employers to voluntarily offer paid family and medical leave to employees. Proposals to expand national access to paid family leave have been introduced in the 116th Congress, such as the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act; S. 463/H.R. 1185), which proposes to create a national wage insurance program for persons engaged in family caregiving activities or who take leave for their own serious health condition (i.e., a family and medical leave insurance program), and the New Parents Act (S. 920/ H.R. 1940) which would allow parents of a new child to receive Social Security benefits for the purposes of financing parental leave. Others have proposed using the tax code to provide tax advantages to individuals with caregiving responsibilities. 


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How to Calculate the Paid-Leave Tax Credit

Four steps to determine if your company can take advantage of the new tax credit

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Rarely do HR professionals contribute to an employer's bottom line. But the new federal tax credit for employer-provided paid family and medical leave offers a unique opportunity to do just that and help reduce your company's tax liability.

Abortion Rights

The Fight to Overturn Roe V. Wade

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In a companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise of that fundamental right with regulations that prohibit or substantially limit access to the procedure. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s rulings since Roe and Doe have continued to generate debate and have precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels designed either to nullify the rulings or limit their effect. 


These governmental regulations have, in turn, spawned further litigation in which resulting judicial refinements in the law have been no more successful in dampening the controversy. Following Roe, the right identified in that case was affected by decisions such as Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, which gave greater leeway to the states to restrict abortion, and Rust v. Sullivan, which narrowed the scope of permissible abortion-related activities that are linked to federal funding. 


The Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which established the “undue burden” standard for determining whether abortion restrictions are permissible, gave Congress additional impetus to move on statutory responses to the abortion issue, such as the Freedom of Choice Act. Legislation to prohibit a specific abortion procedure, the so-called “partial-birth” abortion procedure, was passed in the 108th Congress. 


The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act appears to be one of the only examples of Congress restricting the performance of a medical procedure. Legislation that would prohibit the performance of an abortion once the fetus reaches a specified gestational age has also been introduced in numerous Congresses. Since Roe, Congress has attached abortion funding restrictions to various appropriations measures. The greatest focus has arguably been on restricting Medicaid abortions under the annual appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services. This restriction is commonly referred to as the “Hyde Amendment” because of its original sponsor. 


Similar restrictions affect the appropriations for other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, where federal funds may not be used to perform abortions in the federal prison system, except in cases of rape or if the life of the mother would be endangered. Hyde-type amendments also have an impact in the District of Columbia, where federal and local funds may not be used to perform abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered, and affect international organizations like the United Nations Population Fund, which receives funds through the annual Foreign Operations appropriations measure. 


The debate over abortion also continued in the context of health reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted on March 23, 2010, includes provisions that address the coverage of abortion services by qualified health plans that are available through health benefit exchanges. The ACA’s abortion provisions have been controversial, particularly with regard to the use of premium tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies to obtain health coverage that includes coverage for elective or nontherapeutic abortion services. Under the ACA, individuals who receive a premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsidy are permitted to select a qualified health plan that includes coverage for elective abortions, subject to funding segregation requirements that are imposed on both the plan issuer and the enrollees in such a plan. 







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Veterans Healthcare

Veterans Health Administration: Gender-Specific Health Care Services for Women Veterans

Gender-Specific Health Care Services All veterans access gender-specific health care services through the VA as specified in the VA medical benefits package. The VA medical benefits package refers to a suite of health care services that the VA covers and provides to eligible veterans, generally at no cost to the veterans under certain circumstances. In FY2017, the VA spent $453.9 million on gender-specific health care services for women veterans (VA, FY 2019 Funding and FY 2020 Advance Appropriations: Volume II Medical Programs and Information Technology Programs, p. VHA-169, https://go.usa.gov/xPhnV). Discussed below are some gender-specific health care services that women veterans can access though the VHA, unless otherwise noted. This discussion is not comprehensive.  


Primary Health Care Services Women veterans can access a range of gender-specific primary health care services such as contraceptives, breast and cervical screenings, and menopausal support services through the VHA, in a Women’s Health Clinic and in a mixed gender primary care clinic by a designated women’s health care provider. According to the VHA Directives 1341 and 1330.01(2), a transgender or intersex veteran can access the aforementioned primary health care services through the VHA, regardless of whether a change in sexual anatomy has transpired.  


Maternity Health Care Services The VHA currently provides and pays for a limited number of maternity and newborn health care services to eligible veterans and their family members. Women veterans can begin accessing VA maternity care as soon as their pregnancies are confirmed. The VHA is different from other integrated health care systems because VA medical facilities do not operate full-service birthing centers with medical units such as maternity wards, newborn nurseries, and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The VHA does not have the specialized health care providers or functioning birthing-related medical units in VA medical facilities to deliver babies on an ongoing basis. Women veterans deliver babies at non-VA medical facilities such as DOD medical facilities and community hospitals. The VA may perform, however, emergency childbirth deliveries. 

Newborn Health Care Services The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-163), among other things, allows the VA Secretary to cover postdelivery health care services for eligible newborns. The VA covers newborn care that is rendered on the day of the newborn baby’s birth through the first seven full-days of the newborn’s life. 

 

The eligibility criteria for newborn care is based on the veteran-mother’s VHA enrollment. (Congress chose to exclude from this VA benefit newborns born to women who are not veterans but have male veteran spouses.) The veteran-mother must meet three conditions for her newborn to become eligible to access care through the VHA. First, the veteran-mother must be enrolled in the VHA. Second, the veteran-mother must have received maternity care through the VHA while pregnant with the respective baby. Third, the veteran-mother must have delivered the baby in either a VA-contracted health care facility or VA medical facility. As noted earlier, babies generally are not delivered in VA medical facilities. P.L. 111-163 also allows the VA to cover newborn care when a newborn is abandoned or placed for adoption by his or her veteran-mother

Issues for Congress Women veterans pay $16 in copays per 60-day supply of contraceptives. In comparison, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA: P.L. 111-148), contraceptives are a mandated essential benefit that requires no copay. “Unmet need” for better information and affordable contraception for women veterans is also suggested by a recent study of 723 women veterans at risk of having unintended pregnancies. The findings indicated that over 38% believed that they would not get pregnant while having unprotected intercourse for a year (https://go.usa.gov/xEg7a). Some have argued that, as consistent with the ACA, Congress should consider eliminating the copay requirements for contraceptives. CRS is not aware of any costing estimates for this proposal.  


Congress has also shown bipartisan interest in VA newborn care by considering measures such as the Newborn Care Improvement Act (H.R. 907; S. 970), with the aim of extending VA newborn care beyond seven days of health care coverage. To date, babies born to male veterans are not authorized access to VA newborn care. Congress could choose to consider a measure that would authorize newborn babies born to male veterans to have access to VA newborn care. Both the benefits and the costs associated with such a proposal would await evaluation by the VA and Congress. 

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Health Care News

President Donald Trump guts Obamacare. What does this mean for African Americans?

Downloads

Presidential Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States, Paid Family Leave - CRS, Fetal Viability and the Alabama Human Life Protection Act  - CRS, Mississippi Court Halts - Enforcement of New Abortion Law - CRS, Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response - CRS